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THE

TRIDENT DECEPTION RICK CAMPBELL ST. MARTIN’S PRESS

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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. the trident deception. Copyright © 2014 by Rick Campbell. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010. www.stmartins.com Design by Steven Seighman Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data (TK) ISBN 978-1-250-03901-9 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-250-03900-2 (e-book) St. Martin’s Press books may be purchased for educational, business, or promotional use. For information on bulk purchases, please contact Macmillan Corporate and Premium Sales Department at 1-800-221-7945, extension 5442, or write specialmarkets@macmillan.com. First Edition: March 2014

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To my wife, Lynne, who has supported me all these years and sacrificed so much, allowing me to chase my dreams. To Brett, Caitlin, and Courtney, I pass along the advice that led me to write this novel: —What would you do, if you weren’t afraid?

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PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS - Complete cast of characters is provided in Addendum -

UNITED STATES ADMINISTRATION Kevin Hardison, chief of staff Christine O’Connor, national security adviser Steve Brackman, senior military aide Dave Hendricks, deputy director, National Military Command Center, Pentagon Mike Patton, section two watchstander, National Military Command Center

ISRAELI ADMINISTRATION Levi Rosenfeld, prime minister Ehud Rabin, defense minister Barak Kogen, intelligence minister Ariel Bronner, director, Metsada

COMSUBPAC John Stanbury, Commander, Submarine Force Pacific Murray Wilson, senior Prospective Commanding Officer Instructor

USS KENTUCKY Brad Malone, Commanding Officer Bruce Fay, Executive Officer Pete Manning, Weapons Officer Tom Wilson, Assistant Weapons Officer Herb Carvahlo, Electrical Division Officer Steve Prashaw, Chief of the Boat

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PRINCIPAL CHARACTERS

Alan Davidson, Radio Division Chief Petty Officer Tony DelGreco, Sonar Division Leading Petty Officer Bob Cibelli, Sonar Division Petty Officer Roger Tryon, Missile Division Leading Petty Officer

FAST- ATTACK SUBMARINES Ken Tyler, Commanding Officer, USS San Francisco Dennis Gallagher, Commanding Officer, USS North Carolina Brett Humphreys, Commanding Officer, HMAS Collins

EAGLE-FIVE-ZERO (P-3C AIR CREW) Scott Graef, Tactical Coordinator Pete Burwell, Communicator

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PROLOGUE

WASHINGTON, D.C. As a full moon cast faint shadows across the narrow paths winding through Rock Creek Park, Russell Evans checked over his shoulder again as he ran at nearly a full sprint. The young man almost lost his footing on the rocky path above the creek bed, his dress shoes slipping on the damp stones. Stopping behind a thick copse of trees, Evans rested his hands on his knees as he waited for his exhaustion to fade, his heart racing as he gulped the cool night air. Dropping to one knee, he thought about the poor choice he’d made tonight and the danger he now faced. It had seemed like a wise decision at the time. The man he had chosen to confide in was the one person who had the authority to investigate further. But Evans had misinterpreted the flicker in the man’s eyes when the information had been laid before him, assuming the seasoned government official shared his concern over what he had discovered. Now Evans believed the man’s concern was not for the danger the security breaches represented but for the discovery of the breaches themselves. Evans now realized that had he been older and wiser, had he confided in someone more trustworthy than powerful, he would not be in a desolate park in the middle of the night, fleeing for his life. Evans pulled out his cell phone and scrolled through his address book, the faint light of the BlackBerry display illuminating his face in the darkness. This time, he selected a person he knew he could trust without question. A draft e-mail appeared. The first line of the message he’d typed was short and cryptic, only seven characters long. He was about to expound when the snap of a twig brought his head up. Pressing the BlackBerry display against his chest, he scanned his surroundings. But his eyes saw nothing in the dark shadows. He slowed his breathing, keeping it shallow in an effort to listen more closely, but all he heard was the babbling of Rock Creek as it wound south toward the Potomac.

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As he debated whether to finish the e-mail or resume his flight, a voice reached out from the darkness. “Stand up.” Searching in the direction of the voice, Evans spotted its source. In the trees twenty feet away stood a man, his arm raised, pointing a pistol. Evans stood, then took a step back. “Stay where you are!” The man’s voice was familiar, but Evans couldn’t place it. His eyes strained to identify the man, but the moon’s faint illumination was insufficient. “Who are you? What do you want?” Evans asked. “Who have you told?” “About what?” The man stepped closer, his face becoming clearer. “Tell me who you have told, and I’ll spare your life.” Evans almost laughed. He knew he would be dead in a few minutes regardless of what he revealed. As he held the cell phone against his chest, he slid his thumb along the keyboard and pressed Send. The message was incomplete, but it would have to do. He had run out of time. He dropped his phone on the ground as he replied to his assailant, hoping the sound of the BlackBerry hitting the path wouldn’t be noticed. “I told no one. You caught up to me too soon.” Evans crushed the phone between the heel of his shoe and the rocky trail with the full weight of his body, until a sharp, impossibly loud crack echoed through the quiet park. “What are you doing?” the man asked. “I stepped on a stick,” Evans replied, holding no hope he’d be believed. “I can see I’ve wasted enough time with you already.” It appeared Evans had assessed the situation correctly; he would not leave Rock Creek Park alive. But the e-mail had been sent, offering hope the information he had collected would be successfully analyzed. Not that it mattered, Evans stepped toward his executioner, hoping to determine his identity. As the man’s features slowly materialized into a recognizable face, Evans began trembling. He now understood what was at stake, what they were planning to do. “It’s a shame I have to kill you,” the man said. “But when we’re about to kill millions, what’s one more.” The man squeezed the trigger gradually, until he felt the firm recoil of the pistol in his hand. -1— 0— +1—

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Standing over Evans’s body, the man verified the single shot had done its work. He then scanned the ground with a small flashlight, spotting the fractured BlackBerry. Stooping down, he retrieved the phone, attempting to turn it on. But the phone refused to energize. Realizing what Evans must have done, the man slipped the broken phone into his pocket, confident it could be repaired enough to reveal whom the young man had contacted and what information had been shared.

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10 DAYS REMAINING

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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL Under normal circumstances, the thirteen men and women seated in the conference room would have been dressed in formal attire, the men wearing crisp business suits, the women turned out in silk blouses and coordinating skirts. They would have struck up lively conversations, attempting to persuade their colleagues to accept one proposal or another, their animated faces reflecting off the room’s varnished chestnut paneling. But tonight, pulled away from their evening activities, they wore sports slacks and shirts, their hair wet and windblown, their faces grim as they sat quietly in their seats, eyes fixed on the man at the head of the U-shaped conference table. Beads of rain clung to Levi Rosenfeld’s Windbreaker, left there by a spring storm that had settled over the Middle East, expending itself in unbridled fury, sheets of rain descending in cascading torrents. Prime Minister Rosenfeld, flanked by all twelve members of Israel’s National Security Council, fumed silently in his seat as he awaited details of an unprecedented threat to his country’s existence. He wondered how such critical information could have been discovered so late. At the far left of the conference table sat Barak Kogen, Israel’s intelligence minister. Although Kogen was not a member of the Security Council, Rosenfeld had directed him to attend tonight’s meeting to explain the Mossad’s failure. At the front of the room, a man stood before a large flat-screen monitor. Thin and short, wearing round wire-rimmed glasses, Ehud Rabin’s physical presence failed to reflect the power he wielded as the leader of Israel’s secondstrongest political party and as Israel’s defense minister. Ehud waited for Rosenfeld’s permission to begin. Rosenfeld nodded in his direction. Pushing his glasses onto the bridge of his nose, Ehud stated what everyone in the room already knew. “The Mossad reports Iran will complete assembly of its first nuclear weapon in ten days.” The lights in the conference room flickered, thunder rumbling in the distance as if on cue.

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Rosenfeld looked at his intelligence minister. “Why did we discover this just now, only days before they complete assembly?” Kogen shifted uncomfortably in his seat, his eyes scanning each member of the Security Council before coming to rest on Rosenfeld. “I apologize, Prime Minister. Nothing is more important than preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But Iran has deceived us and the rest of the world. We were fortunate to discover the true extent of their progress in time. We will be more vigilant in the future.” There was something about Kogen’s quick apology rather than stout defense of his Mossad that gave Rosenfeld the impression he was hiding something. But perhaps the evening’s tension clouded his intuition. He turned back to Ehud. “What are our options?” Ehud pressed a remote control in his hand, stepping aside as the monitor flickered to life, displaying a map of Iran. “Weapon assembly is occurring at the Natanz nuclear complex.” A flashing red circle appeared two hundred kilometers south of Tehran. “Uranium for additional weapons is being enriched at Isfahan, and plutonium is being produced at their heavy-water plant near Arak.” Two more red circles appeared in central Iran. “Eliminating the facilities at Arak and Isfahan will be easy, but destruction of their weapon assembly complex at Natanz will be impossible with a conventional strike.” The map zoomed in on the Natanz facility, a sprawling collection of innocuous-looking buildings. “Iran has built a hardened complex beneath the Karkas mountains, connected to the main facility by tunnels. While a conventional strike will collapse the tunnels, it cannot destroy the weapon assembly complex.” “So how do we destroy this facility?” “Since the complex cannot be destroyed with conventional weapons, that leaves one option.” Rosenfeld leaned forward in his chair. “What are you proposing?” Ehud glared at the prime minister. “You know exactly what needs to be done here, Levi. We have a responsibility to protect the citizens of our country. There is no question this weapon will be used against us, either directly or indirectly. We must destroy this facility before Iran completes assembly of this bomb, even if that means we have to employ one of our nuclear weapons.” The conference room erupted. Some council members passionately agreed with Ehud while others chastised him for proposing such an egregious break in policy. Rosenfeld slammed his fist on the table, silencing the room. “Out of the question! We will not use nuclear weapons unless they are used against us first.”

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Ehud’s eyes narrowed. “Then millions of our people will die, because Iran will use this weapon against us. We can either strike now, before our men, women, and children are murdered, or afterward. If we do not strike first, their deaths will be on your conscience.” The defense minister’s assertion hung in the air as Rosenfeld surveyed his council members, some of them staring back, others with their eyes to the table. Whether they agreed with Ehud or not, they could not avoid the underlying truth. If Iran assembled this weapon, it would eventually be used against Israel. That was something Israel could not allow. But a nuclear first strike! Although the prime minister and his Security Council had the authority to authorize the use of nuclear weapons, morally . . . Rosenfeld looked down one side of the conference table and then the other, examining the faces of the men and women seated around him, eventually returning his attention to Ehud. “Are there are no conventional weapons capable of destroying this complex? Not even in the American arsenal?” Ehud’s lips drew thin. “The Americans have the necessary weapons. But they will not provide them to us while they engage in discussions with Iran.” Ehud’s voice dripped with disdain as he mentioned America’s attempt to convince Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions with mere words. “Do not discount our ally so easily,” Rosenfeld replied. “I will meet with the American ambassador tomorrow and explain the situation.” “You are blind, Levi.” Ehud’s face tightened. “The Americans have abandoned us, and you fail to recognize it.” “That’s enough, Ehud! Provide me with the information on the weapons we need, and I will broach this with the United States.” Ehud nodded tersely. Rosenfeld stood. “Unless there is more to discuss, I’ll see you tomorrow morning.” The council members filed out of the conference room, until only Rosenfeld and Kogen remained. Turning to Rosenfeld, Kogen said, “Prime Minister, may I have a word with you, privately?” “Of course. What would you like to discuss?” “It’s best we not talk here.”

Footsteps echoed off the gray terrazzo floor as the two men, each lost in his own thoughts, walked down the Hall of Advisers toward Rosenfeld’s office.

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On their right, paintings of Israel’s prime ministers hung in shallow alcoves, beginning with the image of their country’s first premier, David BenGurion, who guided Israel through its War of Independence. At the far end of the hallway, a conspicuous bare spot on the wall marked the location where Rosenfeld’s portrait would someday hang. Glancing at the shorter and heavier man walking beside him, Kogen thought Rosenfeld had aged more than could be attributed to the normal passage of time. But that was easily explained. Shortly after his election six years ago, the prime minister had weathered a three-year intifada. Then there was the personal loss he had endured, compounded by his dual responsibilities as father and prime minister. Yet despite the toll of his years in office, the older man walked with a determined pace and slightly forward lean, as if barreling through unseen obstacles in his path. The brisk pace was his only exercise; workouts were always something to be scheduled in the not too distant future. As a result, he had steadily added padding to his midsection. But Kogen knew Rosenfeld considered his weight acceptable as long as the circumference of his waist remained smaller than the width of his shoulders. Fortunately, Rosenfeld had broad shoulders. Kogen, on the other hand, had retained his youthful physique, lean and muscular. The taller man, always impeccably dressed; he projected an air of competence and confidence. To the uninformed, Kogen was the more ideal image of a prime minister. But his ser vice had been limited to the military and Israel’s intelligence ser vice, appointed intelligence minister shortly after Rosenfeld’s election as prime minister. Reaching the end of the hallway, Rosenfeld and Kogen passed through a metal detector and into the Aquarium, the security guard’s eyes displaying no hint of curiosity about their arrival so late on a Monday evening. The Aquarium section of the PMO, the Prime Minister’s Office building, where foreign leaders visited their Israeli counterparts, contained a plush, wellappointed lobby, offices for Rosenfeld and his closest aides, and a communications center that allowed for minute-by-minute contact with the Israel Defense Forces. Kogen reflected on the many decisions Rosenfeld and previous prime ministers had made in that small room, guiding Israel through its turbulent history; decisions that paled in importance to the one that would be made tonight.

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Following the prime minister into his office, Kogen sat stiffly in the chair across from Rosenfeld’s desk, scanning the content of the modestly fur-

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nished room as he collected his thoughts. The furniture was spartan and utilitarian, the desk and chairs made from natural unstained maple, unadorned with intricate carvings. The shelf behind Rosenfeld was filled with books arranged in no particular order. The office, with its indecipherable filing system and simple furnishings, reflected the prime minister perfectly— difficult to gauge his reaction to complex issues, yet straightforward once a decision was made. Although Kogen had known Rosenfeld his entire adult life, he could not predict his friend’s response. Rosenfeld’s decision would determine whether four years of painstaking preparation had been in vain. Heavy drops of rain pelted the prime minister’s windows as Rosenfeld waited for Kogen to speak. As impatience gathered in Rosenfeld’s eyes, Kogen steeled himself. He cleared his throat, then began. “We must destroy Natanz, Levi. You know better than anyone the sacrifice we will endure as a nation if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons.” Rosenfeld glanced at the framed portrait of his family, still sitting on his desk. “You’re not telling me anything I don’t already know, Barak.” Lowering his voice, Kogen continued, “Iran is a cesspool of contempt for Israel, intent on exterminating our people. Natanz must be destroyed before this weapon is assembled. We do not have the necessary conventional weapons. Therefore it must be destroyed with a nuclear strike.” There was a long silence as Rosenfeld contemplated Kogen’s assertion. Finally, Rosenfeld spoke. “I will not authorize the preemptive use of nuclear weapons. From a political and moral standpoint, that is something we cannot do.” Kogen leaned back in his chair, a sly smile emerging on his lips. “I never said Israel would launch the nuclear strike.” Rosenfeld blinked, not comprehending Kogen’s statement. “Then who?” The younger man’s smile widened. “America.” A puzzled expression worked its way across Rosenfeld’s face. “America? The president would never authorize this.” Kogen hesitated a moment before continuing. It was finally time to reveal the Mossad’s most closely held secret. “The president’s authorization isn’t required, Prime Minister. Only yours. The Mossad stands ready to initiate an operation that will result in America destroying Natanz. Your authorization is the only step remaining.” Rosenfeld stared at Kogen for a long moment, then his eyes went to the portrait of his family again. No one understood better what was at stake than Rosenfeld, and Kogen knew he was struggling. Iran didn’t have an army massed on Israel’s border. They didn’t have a nuclear arsenal in the process

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of being launched. Yet the threat Iran posed was severe. It had to be dealt with, and deceiving America into employing one of its nuclear weapons was the perfect solution. It didn’t take long for Rosenfeld to come to a decision. “Absolutely not!” Frustration boiled inside Kogen. Still, he harbored hope Rosenfeld would eventually come to the proper decision. The Mossad plan was a radical proposal, and the prime minister would need time to accept it. After a few days of reflection, Rosenfeld would see the wisdom in Kogen’s solution. Showing no outward sign of his frustration, Kogen stood. Before turning to leave, he said, “In ten days, Prime Minister, Iran will complete assembly of this weapon. You have until then to decide.”

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2

BALLISTIC MISSILE SUBMARINE— USS KENTUCKY Just off the south shore of Oahu, as the sun began its climb into a clear blue sky, the USS Kentucky surged through dark green water, the seas spilling over the bow before rolling down the sides of the long black ship. Standing on the Bridge in the submarine’s tall conning tower, Lieutenant Tom Wilson, on watch as Officer of the Deck, assessed a large gray warship crossing the submarine’s path ahead. The ship’s Captain, Commander Brad Malone, stood next to Tom, binoculars to his eyes, likewise studying the U.S. Navy cruiser four thousand yards ahead, inbound to Pearl Harbor. Standing behind them atop the conning tower, or sail, as it was commonly called, the Lookout scanned the horizon for additional contacts. But the cruiser just off the port bow was the most pressing concern, and Tom decided to alter the Kentucky’s course to maintain a safe distance. Pressing the microphone in his hand, the lieutenant passed his order to the Control Room below. “Helm, left full rudder, steady course two-sixzero.” Tom turned aft to verify the order was properly executed, watching the top of the rudder, poking above the ocean’s surface, rotate left. Behind the ship, the submarine’s powerful propeller churned a frothy white wake as the Kentucky began its slow arc to port. Tom knew the Kentucky would not turn quickly due to its tremendous size, which could not be appreciated while the submarine was underway or alongside a pier. Like an iceberg, most of the ship was underwater. Only in dry dock was the immensity of the submarine apparent—almost two football fields long, wide as a three-lane highway, and seven stories tall from the keel to the top of the sail. A tenth of a mile long, the submarine did not maneuver easily. But that hadn’t been a factor in the tense weeklong exercise the crew had just completed. Two weeks earlier, the Kentucky had slipped from the quiet waters of Hood Canal in Washington State, passed Port Ludlow and the Twin Spits

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into the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, and entered the Pacific Ocean en route to her patrol area. Less than a day after getting under way, however, they were diverted to the Hawaiian operating areas for an unexpected week of training. The Kentucky had performed well during the exercise and had just offloaded a group of students onto a tug outside the entrance to Pearl Harbor. Finally, after months of training in port and the unscheduled diversion at sea, the Kentucky was heading out to relieve another Trident ballistic missile submarine on patrol. The submarine’s rudder returned to amidships, and the young Officer of the Deck turned his attention to the submarine’s new course: westerly toward its patrol area. Commander Malone dropped the binoculars from his eyes. “It’s good to be back at sea, isn’t it, Tom?” Tom turned to the ship’s Commanding Officer. Not really. Several weeks ago, as the crew prepared for another two-and-a-half-month long patrol, the tension between Tom and his wife had escalated. Nancy’s disillusion with Navy life had grown sharper with each deployment, and now that she’d given birth to twin girls, the stress of his pending departure had sparked an explosive confrontation. Tom had finally agreed to submit his resignation when he returned from sea. This would be his last patrol. Malone stared at him, and Tom realized he hadn’t answered the Captain’s question. “Yes, sir. It’s good to be under way again.” The older man smiled, placing his hand on the young officer’s shoulder. “You don’t have to lie to me, Tom. I know it’s not easy.” A report from below echoed from the Bridge communications box. “Bridge, Nav. Passing the one-hundred-fathom curve outbound.” Tom acknowledged the report, then glanced at the Bridge Display Unit, checking the Kentucky’s progress toward the Dive Point. “Shift the watch belowdecks,” Malone ordered. “Prepare to dive.” Tom acknowledged the Captain’s order as Malone ducked down into the ship’s sail, descending the ladder into Control. Tom squinted up at the sun; it’d be two long months before he saw it again. Two months of fluorescent lighting and artificially controlled days and nights. Two months before the Kentucky returned home, the crew greeting their wives and children waiting on the pier. As much as he enjoyed his job, it paled in comparison to the joyful reunion with his wife, and now his two young daughters, at the end of each long patrol. With his thoughts lingering on his family, Tom dropped his gaze to the

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horizon, then flipped the switch on the Bridge box, shifting the microphone in his hand over to the shipwide 1-MC announcing circuit. “Shift the watch belowdecks,” Tom ordered. “Prepare to dive.”

Twenty minutes later, Tom descended the ladder into Control, stopping five rungs from the bottom. He pulled the heavy Lower Bridge hatch shut, spinning the handle until the hatch lugs engaged. “Last man down, hatch secure,” he announced to the new Officer of the Deck stationed on the Conn, a one-foot-high platform in the center of Control, surrounding the two periscopes. Tom signed the Rig for Dive book, then reviewed the status of the rest of the submarine’s compartments. He turned to Commander Malone, standing next to the Officer of the Deck. “Captain, the ship is rigged for Dive.” Malone nodded thoughtfully. “Since this is your last patrol, why don’t you take her down?” How did he know? Neither Tom nor Nancy had told anyone, but Tom wasn’t surprised. Malone seemed to know everything about his ship and the crew that manned it. He grinned. “I’d love to, sir.” After receiving a quick update on the ship’s status, he relieved as OOD, this time in Control instead of on the Bridge above, informing Malone once the turnover was complete. “Sir, I have relieved as Officer of the Deck.” “Very well. Submerge the ship.” “Submerge the ship, aye, sir.” Before submerging, Tom surveyed his watch section in Control. Fire control technicians manned two of the four combat control consoles on the starboard side of the ship, calculating the course, speed, and range of contacts held on the ship’s sensors. The Quartermaster, responsible for determining the ship’s position and monitoring water depth, was bent over the chart table near the Conn. In front of Tom sat the ship’s Diving Officer, supervising the two planesmen—the Outboard watchstander, who operated the submarine’s diving control surfaces on the stern, and the Inboard watchstander, or Helm, who operated both the rudder and the depth-control surfaces on the submarine’s sail. On the left side of the Diving Officer sat the Chief of the Watch, who was responsible for adjusting the ship’s buoyancy, both overall and fore-to-aft, and operated the submarine’s masts and antennas.

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After carefully reviewing the status of his watch section, Tom announced loudly, “All stations, Conn. Prepare to submerge.” The Quartermaster examined the ship’s Fathometer, announcing, “Two hundred fathoms beneath the keel,” and the Chief of the Watch reported, “Straight board, sir. All hull penetrations sealed.” Satisfied his watch section was ready, Tom approached the port periscope, which was already raised, turned the scope until it looked forward, then pressed his face against the eyepiece, peering through the scope with his right eye. “Dive, submerge the ship to one-six-zero feet.” The Diving Officer nodded to the Chief of the Watch, who announced, “Dive, dive,” on the 1-MC, then activated the ship’s diving alarm. The characteristic oooggh-aaahh resounded throughout the submarine, followed by “Dive, dive,” again on the 1-MC. The Chief of the Watch opened the vents on top of the main ballast tanks, letting water flood up through grates in the ship’s keel, and the Kentucky gradually sank into the ocean as it lost buoyancy. As the waves passed over the submarine’s bow, the escaping air rushing out of the main ballast tank vents shot geysers of water mist high above the Kentucky’s sail. “Forward tanks venting.” Tom swung the scope around, looking back over the ship’s stern. “Aft tanks venting.” The Kentucky gradually sank into the ocean, and soon only the submarine’s sail was visible above the surface, the waves now passing over the top of the Missile Compartment deck. “Deck’s awash.” The Kentucky continued its descent, the top of the submarine’s sail disappearing into the ocean as the Diving Officer announced, “Passing eightzero feet.” Waves began breaking over the top of the periscope, increasing in frequency as the Kentucky slipped into the depths of the Pacific Ocean. “Scope’s under.” Returning the periscope to a forward view, Tom folded the handles and reached up, rotating the periscope locking ring counterclockwise, lowering the scope into its well. The Control Room was quiet, except for occasional reports and orders between watchstanders. Tom listened closely to the Diving Officer and the Chief of the Watch as they monitored the submarine’s buoyancy, determining whether they needed to flood water into or pump water out of the variable ballast tanks. “Shutting main ballast tank vents,” the Chief of the Watch reported, sealing the tanks in case the ship was grossly overweight and an Emergency Blow was required to restore buoyancy.

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The submarine gradually slowed its descent until it leveled off at 160 feet. “On ordered depth,” the Diving Officer announced. The Kentucky had submerged without a hitch, the evolution executed flawlessly. “Well done, Tom,” Malone said. “Get relieved and meet me in Nav Center with the XO and department heads.”

In the Navigation Center behind Control, Tom joined Malone beside the chart table, along with the ship’s Executive Officer and the submarine’s four department heads. On the right of the ship’s Commanding Officer stood the Executive Officer, or XO. Responsible for all administrative issues and the daily execution of the ship’s activities, Lieutenant Commander Bruce Fay was the submarine’s second in command. Beneath the CO and XO in the military hierarchy stood the submarine’s four department heads, all on their second submarine tour with the exception of the ship’s Supply Officer, the only non-nuclear-trained officer aboard. The most senior department head, Lieutenant Commander John Hinves, standing to Malone’s left, was the ship’s Engineering Officer, or Eng, responsible for the nuclear reactor and propulsion plant, as well as all basic mechanical and electrical systems throughout the ship. The other three department heads were all senior lieutenants. Pete Manning was the Weapons Officer, or Weps; Alan Tyler was the Navigation Officer, or Nav; and Jeff Quimby was the submarine’s Supply Officer, or Suppo, although many had not yet broken the habit of referring to the man responsible for serving the pork and beans as the Chop. Tom, one of nine junior officers aboard the submarine for their first three-year sea tour, was the only JO in Nav Center because of his assignment as Assistant Weapons Officer, responsible for the more detailed aspects of the submarine’s tactical and strategic weapon systems. As the six other men waited quietly around the chart table, Malone opened a sealed manila envelope stamped Top Secret in orange letters, retrieving a single-page document containing the ship’s patrol orders. Until this moment, no one aboard the Kentucky knew their assigned operating area, where they would lurk for the duration of their patrol. Malone skimmed the document, pausing to read aloud the pertinent information. “ ‘Transit through operating area Sapphire, then commence Alert Patrol in Emerald.’ ” Malone turned to the ship’s Navigator. “How long to Emerald?” Tyler measured off the distance on the chart between the Kentucky’s current position and the entrance to Emerald. “Ten days, sir.”

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FAST- ATTACK SUBMARINE— USS HOUSTON

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“So what have you learned?” Captain Murray Wilson stood between the Houston’s two periscopes, his arms folded across his chest, glaring at the ten Prospective Commanding and Executive Officers gathered in the submarine’s Control Room. The atmosphere in Control was subdued, with most of the ten PCOs and PXOs staring down at the submarine’s deck. As Captain Wilson dressed down his students, the Houston’s crew sat quietly at their watch stations, painfully aware their performance during the Submarine Command Course had been dismal as well. “In twenty engagements over the last week, the Kentucky consistently defeated you, sinking this ship every time. A ballistic missile submarine, not even one of our front-line fast attacks, handed your ass to you.” Wilson shook his head, then asked his question again. “So what have you learned?” One of the PCOs, headed to relieve as commanding officer of the USS Greenville, spoke. “We need to better position the ship, taking advantage of the ocean’s thermal layer. The Kentucky gained her advantage through better employment of her sensors.” “True,” Wilson replied, “but that’s not the answer I’m looking for.” An uneasy silence settled over the Control Room again until a second PCO spoke, this one headed to relieve as commanding officer of the West Virginia. “Countermeasures aren’t very effective against our ADCAP torpedo. You have to be more aggressive in your evasion tactics when you’re being shot at with advanced digital torpedoes.” “Another good observation,” Wilson said, “but still not what I’m looking for.” Silence returned to the Control Room as Murray Wilson, the most senior captain in the Submarine Force, waited for the obvious answer from one of the students in the twelfth Submarine Command Course under his instruction. Each year, the Submarine Force held four command courses,

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ensuring each officer tapped to relieve as a submarine commanding or executive officer fully grasped the knowledge and tactical guidance necessary to successfully lead his crew in combat. The three months of intense training culminated in a weeklong exercise at sea, the students split between two submarines, pitted against each other day and night, their Torpedo Rooms filled to the gills with exercise torpedoes. The Houston was supposed to go head-to-head against another fast attack, the Scranton, but an electrical turbine casualty sent the Scranton to the yards for repair, and the Kentucky was hastily drafted into ser vice. When the students assigned to the Houston learned the Kentucky, which specialized in launching missiles instead of hunting enemy submarines, had replaced the Scranton, their reaction was glib; they were confident they would defeat the Kentucky without breaking a sweat. They couldn’t have been more wrong. Wilson’s gaze swept across his now humble students, stopping on Commander Joe Casey, headed to the USS Texas, one of the Virginia-class fast attacks. He’d been the most boisterous of his students, loudly proclaiming they’d crush the Kentucky in every scenario. “Commander Casey. What’s the most important lesson you learned this week?” Casey looked up, and Wilson knew from the look in the young commander’s eyes that he had learned his lesson. Casey said, “Don’t be too cocky.” Wilson smiled. “That’s exactly right, gentleman. Never underestimate your opponent, which is exactly what you did this week. When you found out the Kentucky replaced the Scranton, you expected a cakewalk. Going up against a ballistic missile submarine instead of one of our fast attacks was going to be like what, Commander Bates?” Doug Bates, standing next to Casey, looked up and answered quietly, “Like shooting fish in a barrel.” “Things didn’t turn out quite the way you expected, did they? Just because the Kentucky is a ballistic missile submarine doesn’t make her any less capable than a fast attack. All of her department heads have served on fast attacks—and don’t forget, I trained her commanding officer and executive officer. True, her sonar and combat control systems are a generation behind what we have on our fast attacks, but they are capable enough in the hands of a crew that understands the ship’s strengths and weaknesses, and most important, doesn’t underestimate their opponent. When you lead your submarine into the Western Pacific or through the Red Sea into the Gulf, you’ll be pitted against what could easily be considered an inferior adversary,

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RICK CAMPBELL

lacking the sophisticated equipment and training you enjoy. But all it takes is one mistake, one incorrect assumption, one torpedo to send you and your crew to the bottom.” Wilson’s ire began to build as he contemplated the fate of his students. He ought to fail them all, permanently ending their careers, a fitting reward for their inability to lead their crew in combat. But as he scanned the faces of the sullen and embarrassed officers, he wondered if instead of this being his worst class, it was his best. No other group of Prospective Commanding and Executive Officers had learned this critical lesson more thoroughly than the men standing in front of him. “Excuse me, sir.” The Houston’s Junior Officer of the Deck interrupted Wilson. “The Captain requests your presence on the Bridge. The Kentucky has returned to periscope depth and is requesting release.” Wilson acknowledged the officer’s report, then finished addressing his students. “When we get back to port, I want a complete reconstruction of each encounter, with detailed analysis of what you did wrong and what you could have done better in each scenario. You have seventy-two hours to complete reconstruction of all twenty events.”

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A moment later, Murray Wilson emerged onto the Houston’s small Bridge cockpit, squinting as his eyes adjusted to the bright daylight, joining Commander Kevin Lawson, the Houston’s commanding officer. “Looks like I’ve got some work to do,” Lawson said, a look of embarrassment on his face. “I know I’ve got a new Sonar Chief, but I didn’t realize how far the sonar shack’s proficiency had fallen. We’ll spend a few weeks in the sonar trainer before our next deployment.” Wilson didn’t reply. He knew Lawson would take a turn on his crew as soon as they returned to port. Instead, his eyes searched the horizon for the Kentucky. “Bearing two-seven-zero relative,” the Lookout behind Wilson said. Turning to his left, Wilson spotted the Kentucky’s periscope and antenna just off the Houston’s port beam, only a few hundred yards away as the ballistic missile submarine headed out to sea for her long strategic deterrent patrol. Lawson passed the handheld radio to Wilson. “The Kentucky’s on channel sixteen.” Wilson took the radio, holding it close to his mouth. “Outbound Navy unit, this is inbound Navy unit, over.”

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A familiar voice crackled from the radio; Murray’s son, Tom, responded to the Houston’s hail. “Inbound Navy unit, request release, over.” Wilson replied, “Outbound Navy unit, you are released for other duties. Godspeed and good hunting, over.” There was a burst of static, followed by Tom’s response. “That’s not an appropriate wish for this class of submarine, but thanks anyway. See you in a few months, sir. This is outbound Navy unit, out.” Wilson handed the radio back to Lawson, then watched the Kentucky’s periscope grow smaller as the submarine headed out to sea, finally disappearing altogether as she descended into the murky ocean depths. A brisk wind whipped through the fast attack’s Bridge, sending a chill down Wilson’s spine. He rubbed both arms as he looked up, noting a towering bank of dark gray cumulous clouds approaching from the west, the direction the Kentucky was headed. But Wilson’s son and the rest of the submarine’s crew wouldn’t even notice the storm churning the water’s surface several hundred feet above them. “The cold front’s rolling in fast,” Wilson said, turning to Lawson. “Let’s get in before we get caught in the storm.”

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The Trident Deception by Rick Campbell (Chapters 1-3)  

The USS Kentucky—a Trident ballistic missile submarine carrying a full complement of 192 nuclear warheads—is about to go on a routine patrol...